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Head trauma can happen in almost any accident. In many cases, your trauma might be limited to cuts and scratches. But the effects of head trauma can also include facial disfigurement, vision loss, or even brain damage.
Here is some information about the causes and effects of head injuries and the compensation you can seek for them.
Head trauma happens when the head collides with an object or vice versa. Head trauma can take a few different forms, including:
Blunt force trauma occurs when the object striking the head does not penetrate the skin. Blunt forces can cause bruises, fractures, and brain injuries.
Penetrating trauma happens when the object striking the head penetrates the skin into the muscle or the bones of the head. Penetrating trauma can also disrupt the soft tissues of the head, such as the eyes.
Penetrating trauma can also occur when blunt trauma fractures bones and drives them into the soft tissues. For example, bone fragments from an orbital fracture can push bone fragments into the eye.
Head injuries represent many types of injuries that occur to the structures in the head. Some common head injuries include:
Fractures happen when a force overcomes the structural integrity of a bone. Your head contains 29 bones and 32 teeth. Head trauma can break any of these bones, resulting in pain, disfigurement, and even loss of function.
For example, the orbital is the bone surrounding the eye. An orbital fracture can cause partial or total blindness in the eye. A fracture can disrupt the muscles that control the eye, leading to a loss of eye motion. Bone fragments can puncture the eye and sever the optic nerve.
Dental fractures can result in a loss of teeth. A jaw fracture can lead to long-term pain in the jaw and mandibular joint. A fractured cheekbone can cause permanent disfigurement.
The most serious fracture is often a skull fracture. A skull fracture can create the conditions for a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The face and head contain a lot of soft tissue, including cartilage, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. Nerve and muscle damage in the face can interfere with your ability to create facial expressions. They can also affect your ability to see, smell, speak, and eat.
Broken cartilage in the ear or nose can permanently disfigure you. Cuts, scrapes, and burns on the scalp and face can leave scars that change your appearance for the rest of your life.
A blow to the eye can rupture the eyeball or damage the cornea. Even if the eyeball remains intact, small blood vessels in the eye can burst, causing blood to accumulate inside the eyeball. The pressure created by the bleeding can damage the nerves that are necessary for sight.
A hard blow to the head can even cause the retina at the back of your eye to become detached. The retina captures light and transmits the resulting image to the brain. Without emergency surgery, a detached retina will often leave you blind.
The skull protects the brain. Cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) surrounds the brain and creates a cushion between the brain and the skull.
Penetrating trauma can result in a foreign object and skull fragments entering the brain. This trauma can destroy brain cells, sever nerve connections, and tear blood vessels.
Blunt trauma can also jostle the brain, causing bruising, bleeding, and tearing.
Some types of TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) include:
A concussion happens when the brain sloshes inside the CSF. The pressure wave of the moving brain causes widespread but minor brain damage.
Although concussions rarely cause death, they can cause:
Concussions usually clear up in about two months. But occasionally, an accident victim will develop a post-concussion syndrome that can produce these symptoms for several months or years.
A brain contusion happens when the brain moves so violently that the CSF cannot slow it down. The brain strikes the inside of the skull, causing severe bruising and bleeding.
Brain contusions cause severe symptoms, including cognitive problems, loss of motor control, coma, and even death.
Head trauma can tear blood vessels feeding the brain. The bleeding deprives the brain of oxygen and causes pressure to build up in the skull. These two effects can lead to death or permanent brain damage.
Although any accident can cause head trauma, some accidents have an increased risk of causing a serious head injury, including:
Motorcycle accidents are notorious for causing head injuries. In a motorcycle accident, your head can strike the vehicle that hit you. It can also impact the ground after you fall.
In New York, all motorcycle operators and passengers must wear a helmet. Although a helmet can reduce your chances of sustaining a head injury, you can still suffer concussions and facial trauma while wearing a helmet.
Pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents also have a high risk of head trauma. You can injure your head in the initial collision with a vehicle or when you strike the ground.
Even with seat belts and airbags, you can still suffer a head injury in a car accident. Your head can strike the side window, doorpost, steering wheel, or dashboard. Even striking the airbag can break your nose.
The compensation you receive for a head injury could be substantial. Injury compensation covers your medical bills and lost income. The medical bills for a head injury could include expensive treatments, such as surgery to repair fractures and soft tissue.
Brain injuries can require years of therapy before you regain your pre-accident functions. As a result, you might experience a severe diminishment in your income and earning capacity.
Significantly, you can choose to opt-out of New York’s no-fault insurance system if your auto accident injuries include disfigurement and fractures. Suppose your head injury includes broken bones, scars, or other forms of disfigurement. In that case, you can file a lawsuit to recover your economic losses, as well as compensation for pain and suffering.
To learn more about the compensation you might receive for your head injury, contact the Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. Our New York City personal injury attorneys will explore your options and help you to understand your next steps.
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